•Says, IPOB leader wants Benue in Biafra because of food
From Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
Senator Joseph Waku of Benue State in this exclusive interview took a swipe at Nnamdi Kanu for including Benue State in his dream Biafra, describing him as an irresponsible, fraudulent and attention-seeking young man. Waku also blamed President Muhammadu Buhari for giving Kanu the attention he had always wanted, as he believes he could have been conveniently ignored a long time ago. He spoke on other burning issues too.
What’s your reaction to Nnamdi Kanu’s claim to Benue as part of his quest for Biafra?
Kanu is a fraud. I am only disappointed in Ndigbo who allowed somebody without a fixed address and a job to mislead him or her to this level. Are you aware that northerners in the East need only two trailers to bring them back to the North while Igbos in the North need tons and tons of trailers to take them back to the East. And if you manage to take them home with these uncountable trailers, what will you do with their investments in the North? Are you going to uproot them? So, I consider the young man irresponsible and rascally. Nnamdi Kanu is an irresponsible person and I blame President Buhari for making him popular by giving him attention. He should have been ignored a long time ago.
You want Biafra and you are not including people from Cross River and Akwa Ibom states, you now want to usurp Benue and Rivers states? How can it work that way? Is he not a mental case? I believe Kanu is a saboteur of the Igbo cause and Ndigbo successful businessmen and women because he has nothing and he wants his Igbo brothers who are already successful in business to lose their businesses. That is what he is working for. My quarrel with Ndigbo over the rascality of this irresponsible young man is that they did not come out early enough to dissociate themselves from his charade. And that was why we encouraged youths from the North to issue that ultimatum to Ndigbo. But now that we have responsible and meaningful Igbos speaking, we have now spoken to Northern youths to reconsider their ultimatum. We live with Igbos and we are happy with them.
There will always be problems but it’s the mechanism of resolving these issues that matters. You and your husband, don’t you quarrel? But has he sent you out of his house? Or have you sent him out of the house?
Does Benue State have any cultural or ancestral relationship with Ndigbo to warrant Kanu’s “Benue must go with Biafra”?
If you’re relocating people from their original settlement, won’t you consult them? That’s to show you that the boy is empty. That’s why I said that guy is not serious. He wants to play a fast one on Nigerians. That’s why he’s saying that he wants Rivers because they claim they have oil. Then he wants to claim Benue because Benue has food. Is he taking us by conquest? Or would there be negotiation between Ndigbo and us? That tells you how empty and irresponsible he is. Honestly, I wouldn’t have commented on Kanu’s issue, because I don’t consider him a normal person but a saboteur working against successful business and law abiding Igbo men and women, because he has nothing to show for his existence.
What’s your take on restructuring of Nigeria some are clamouring for?
Nigerians will always complain. This is not the first time some Nigerians are clamouring for restructuring. And I wish to let you know that Nigeria has been restructured severally. We started with Independence in 1960 when the South had their independence and when the North was not ready. That was restructuring. After that, we had regional government; western region, eastern region and northern region. Later, restructuring took place in the West from which Mid-west region was carved out. After that, Lt Colonel Yakubu Gowon came and gave us seven states. That was restructuring and subsequently, General Murtala Ramat Muhammed later added five to give us 12 states. Was that not restructuring? Babangida came and increased the number of states from 12 to 19. Was that not restructuring? And then, Abacha added more to make Nigeria 36 states. Was that not restructuring? So, to me, I think Nigerians are busybody people. Those who are clamouring for restructuring, have they been able to first restructure their own homes?
Don’t you think it’s high time we all went our separate ways given the many agitations here and there?
Agitations here and there can never stop. Even if Biafra eventually is a reality and the Igbos leave, there will continue to be agitations in the Biafra they are currently agitating for. A typical example is that of a Catholic bishop who was transferred to another part of Igbo land but the Igbos refused to accept him. There will always be competition but competition should not suggest that we should part ways. We will always remain together and resolve issues that need to be resolved without any insult to anybody.
What’s your take on the quit notice given Igbos by the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum?
They said “those who want to go.” Don’t misinterpret them. That means that those who believe in Kanu’s charade and want to go should go at the expiration of a set deadline while those who are law abiding and wish to remain in Nigeria as Nigerians can stay and they will be guaranteed freedom of movement without anybody harassing them. This group of Igbos who wish to remain are citizens of Nigeria and would be protected by the laws of the land (Nigeria’s constitution). But those who believe in Kanu should go. We can no longer condone any threat from any group of persons. In fact, in my last meeting with northern youths, I blamed the AYCF for not consulting us (Northern elders) before issuing that ultimatum. If they had consulted us, we could have given them better advice about what to do and say. Be that as it may, that’s the level of their understanding and we (northern elders) supported that move by our youths.
Let nobody deceive you, we supported that idea. We supported that idea not concerning every Igbo man but those who want to go can go and those who want to remain in Nigeria as Nigerians can remain. And for those who wish to remain as Nigerians, I can assure you that nobody would harass or molest them. If anybody tries to molest or threaten them, they should report such to security agencies and the law would catch up with such persons. But those who believe in Kanu should leave and if they still want to be in Nigeria and foment trouble after the expiration of the deadline, they will be forced out from every part of Nigeria at the expiration of the ultimatum given them. We are not against Ndigbo or Kanu but what we are against is his lumping us with his Biafra agitation.